It takes more than just seeing a cosmetic dentist in Springfield, Oregon to enjoy a great looking smile. In addition to daily brushing and flossing, the foods we eat also play an important role in determining the state of our oral health. Diets high in sugar, for example, increase our risk of tooth decay by providing harmful oral bacteria with the fuel needed to produce substances that erode our tooth enamel. Conversely, diets that include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and vitamin D actually work to help protect our teeth from the same harmful bacteria that thrives on sugar.
Now, a recent study suggests that vitamin D may actually play a bigger role in protecting our oral health than was previously assumed. Until now, researchers had no way to prove the presence of long-term vitamin D deficiencies in humans throughout history. However, anthropologists studying human teeth from ancient civilizations discovered that the dentin – the delicate center of our teeth – actually records when the body experiences a vitamin D deficiency.
Researchers uncovered that when a vitamin D deficiency occurs for an extended period of time, the dentin in our teeth do not remineralize and cannot form new, healthy layers. This seems logical, as vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to modern day problems like bone density issues and osteoporosis.
The lack of mineralization caused the formation of interglobular dentin, or calcium salt deposits. These salt deposits where then the cause of rickets in the interior of a tooth.
Unlocking this key allowed researchers to successfully analyze and read the rickets in a way similar to how scientists read the rings of a tree. In cases of rickets, bones don’t remineralize and become more prone to breaking. The resilient nature of teeth, however, allowed them to maintain their strength throughout an individual’s lifespan. By not breaking, the dentin recorded “markers” in the layers of a tooth that enabled researchers to unlocked this hidden narrative.
Not only was this discovery the to key to discovering the migration pattern of early civilizations due to sunlight exposure based on the seasons and latitude, but it also allows modern dentists to analyze how and why people develop a vitamin D deficiency.
Understanding the cause of a vitamin D deficiency is the first step in overcoming this global epidemic – currently over 1 billion people worldwide suffer from the condition. Possible indicators for the condition have been tracked throughout history since 2 C.E., and the earliest recorded clinical cases can be traced back to the late 17th century.
While the researchers involved in this study eagerly look forward to using this breakthrough to devise a way to eliminate vitamin D deficiencies, the current research only suggests a lack of sunlight is the primary cause of the condition. As humanity gradually shifts to spending most of its time indoors, receiving such low levels of UVB radiation prevents us from receiving the sunlight we need.
If your cosmetic dentist in Springfield, Oregon is worried about your vitamin D levels, the topic of spending more time in the sun – while of course wearing sunscreen – could be discussed. In some cases, vitamin D supplements may also be recommended, depending on your current state of oral and overall health.
Vitamin D deficiency can not only impact your oral health, but your overall health as well. Taking the steps to lower your risk of this unhealthy condition starts by stepping outside and into the light.